Pastoral Perspectives

Serve God Only

Last Saturday, at EDC Dawn Prayer, when Pastor Edwin was reading aloud Matthew 4:1-11, a verse caught my attention: Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” In NIV, it is clearer: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” Serve God only! This keeps me pondering over and questioning about my service in church. In the first place, what is the reason for my service in church? Is it led and directed by God through His Word? Is it to glorify God or self? Is it to gratify my own desire? In and through my service, how do I treat God? Do I treat God with respect? Do I rely on God or others or myself? When I serve, how do I actually serve? Am I really serving God only? Or is there something else? These are soul-searching questions! God knows my heart more than I know myself! I am not at this point lamenting over my service in church over these past twelve years. I am not but I am seeking instead to re-align my service in a manner which pleases and honours God. I believe that, in ministry, there is always a crucial need for a time of self-evaluation and self-examination so that there might be a spiritual re-awakening and a spiritual renewal in our service to God in church.

We cannot assume or presume in our ministry and service offered to the LORD. When I looked at the Apostle Paul, he was so zealous for God as a Pharisee. He thought that he was serving God by persecuting the Christians. He did not realise that he was not serving God but himself. His passion had overrun him until God intervened. God turned him around and showed Him His right way of service. It is vital to have our bearing right from the start when we serve God. Our bearing of service must be from God, not from others or from self. It should not be driven or motivated by needs per se even though needs are still important. We need to ask ourselves a genuine question: “What drives us to serve?” Have we sought the will of God before we venture into any forms of service? If we are drawing attention to ourselves when we serve, we are not serving God but our own selfish ego. When we serve, if we are trying to impress others, then we are not really serving God. When we serve, if we are having an attitude of competition, then I think we are not really serving God too.

Back to one of my soul-searching questions: “When I serve, how do I actually serve?” In Psalm 100:2, I am reminded of the right attitude of service: “Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” I took on the service with joy and gladness. I would not do it reluctantly but rejoicingly, knowing whom I am serving. Indeed, I am serving the Lord God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe! God is the One who has called me into His service. God is the One who has chosen me to be His child and consecrated me to serve Him. God has given me the joy and privilege to serve Him. By His great mercy and awesome grace, I have been given this opportunity to serve Him. Therefore, I will serve Him with gladness. To serve God with gladness is to serve Him without reservation but with diligence, enthusiasm and gratefulness. He has called me out of darkness and given me His light. He shall shine His face upon me as I yield myself to Him in total allegiance.

In Psalm 2:11, I am also reminded of another right attitude of service: “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” Our God is an awesome God! I will serve Him with fear because He is my God and is worthy of my service to Him. To serve God with fear is to serve Him with reverence and respect, doing what is right and truthful in His sight. It is to have the fear of the LORD in my heart when I serve Him. There is no sloppiness or lousiness in my service to God. It is giving my utmost service to the King. Not only am I giving my best service to Him but I am also mindful of relying upon His strength which He will provide me in my service rendered to Him.  I have learnt in Job 28:28 that “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” “Serving God with fear” reveals the authenticity of one’s service to God. There is a clear conscience in the reason for that service which is given to the Lord. You serve, not to please men, but to please God. When you are led by God Himself into service, you are certain of whom you are serving. Every time, you will fall back on God and God alone. Your service rendered to God will be a joyous one because you are serving the Lord with fear and rejoicing with trembling.

The greatest encouragement comes from the way our Lord Jesus demonstrated true service in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” I desire earnestly to be like our Lord Jesus in His right and true attitude of service to His Father. The true mark of servanthood is found in Christ Jesus our Lord. So, let us serve the Lord our God with gladness and with fear. Let us allow the Spirit of God to lead us into wholesome service given to God and God alone. Amen.